Week 1 Ranksauce: No More Mr. Draft Guy
September 4, 2013 | gregsauce
With opening night less than 48 hours away, the epilogue to 2013’s fantasy football draft season is upon us. Most drafts have taken place, so most fake owners have turned their attention to pigskin’s premiere weekend. You can find my Week 1 rankings below, but I have some rambling stories and observations from the preseason to share before we get there.
Overall, I will remember the 2013 draft season primarily in two ways: first, as the year that everyone went crawling back to prioritizing running backs in standard leagues and second, as the year that two-quarterback leagues gained a ton of momentum in the fantasy community. Believe it or not, these developments are closely related. As prevailing wisdom in single-QB formats moves the masses back toward RB-filled opening rounds, standard leagues are starting to feel a little too standard. The running backs taken in the first two rounds may change between seasons, but the default strategy of starting RB-RB remains the same. “Standard”, “default”, “same” – these are all nice ways of saying “boring”, especially for veteran fake footballers.
Doubling the quarterback count in starting lineups allows drafters an alternative to the early-round running back blues. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are suddenly viable options when starting a team. Not-quite-elite running backs like Frank Gore, DeMarco Murray, and Reggie Bush no longer land in the second round by necessity. Rather, they must be weighed against the likes of Cam Newton, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady in those spots. Thanks to the plague of John Fox Disease (a.k.a. running-back-by-committee) infecting so many NFL teams and the league’s general depth at the QB position, we’re entering a golden age for 2-QB fantasy leagues because elite QBs are about as scarce as elite RBs. There is no tried and true blueprint for successful drafting in 2-QB leagues and that adventurous unknown is calling to more drafters now than ever.
Auctions are also increasing in popularity and as more average-Joe types cast off the chains of snake-drafting, there are plenty of inefficiencies for savvy managers to exploit. Coincidentally, the lessons from snake drafts are a great springboard for auction strategy. The positions devalued in normal drafts can be similarly devalued in the bidding arena. Think about what kinds of players are typically taken in the latter half of snake drafts. The best values are always wide receivers, tight ends, and quarterbacks. A typical set of auction values corresponds to this hierarchy, assigning high dollar values to running backs more so than any other position.
Auctions in 2013 are particularly interesting because if you are willing to accept any one or two of the non-RB positions as ultra-deep, you can skew your positional budgets in radical ways and still wind up with a quality team. I attempted this strategy in my final auction of the season on Monday night. My goal was to spend heavily on three elite running backs, target a select group of mid-tier wideouts that I expect to overachieve, and spend minimally on QB and TE. When I say “spend minimally”, I mean $5 total between both positions. The benefit of suppressing the total amount spent on quarterbacks and tight ends was the opportunity to pay above market price on running backs. Unfortunately, I got caught price enforcing on Matthew Stafford, but let’s take a look at my team anyway:
QB: Matthew Stafford, $14
RB: Trent Richardson, $47
RB: LeSean McCoy, $48
RB/WR: Matt Forte, $42
WR: Pierre Garcon, $20
WR: Miles Austin, $9
WR/TE: Kenbrell Thompkins, $6
TE: Jordan Cameron, $2
K: Greg Zuerlein, $1
DEF: Cleveland Browns, $1
Bn: Josh Freeman, $1
Bn: Isaac Redman, $2
Bn: Ronnie Hillman, $2
Bn: Andre Brown, $2
Bn: Brian Hartline, $1
Bn: Andre Roberts, $1
Bn: Mohamed Sanu, $1
Yes, I spent 68.5% of my budget on my starting running backs. They were the first three players I bought and I stand by the strategy. If I would have been more disciplined and avoided the bid on Stafford, I could have landed Michael Vick ($5), Ben Roethlisberger ($2), Eli Manning ($2), Jay Cutler ($1), or even Sam Bradford ($1) to form a QBBC with Freeman. Alex Smith, E.J. Manuel, and Terrelle Pryor weren’t even drafted in this league. The extra dollars I spent on Stafford could have been used to acquire better reserve running backs or upgrade at WR to someone in the range of Jordy Nelson ($16), Reggie Wayne ($18), Dwayne Bowe ($13), or Antonio Brown ($11). I don’t mind being weak at running back beyond my starters because on their respective bye weeks, I can always plug in a wide receiver at RB/WR if Redman, Hillman, or Brown aren’t viable options.
Don’t get me wrong, I like this team and I like Stafford at the price I paid. I am disappointed my draft plan was derailed, but it happened early enough that I could adjust on the fly and patiently seek out values at WR. All my receivers should earn more than what I paid for them and if that happens, this team will contend.
Ultimately, fake football continues to be a game of considerable variance. A solid draft can put you in position to win, but smart in-season management is what brings home trophies. With that in mind, below are my positional ranks for Week 1 of the NFL season. Stay tuned to TheFakeFootball.com for my first installment of the waiver wire early next week. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.